How to Close the Gap Between Workouts and Well-being

Personal Trainer Mark Jellison on Fitness & Health



These days, people like their fitness programs like they crave cold-pressed juice: sizeable and often. Crossfit, SoulCycle, P90x: the list of available workout options that promise body transformation goes on and on, and while all of us are finding more and more outlets, it can be challenging to find a workout that fits our lifestyle.

Fitness trainer Mark Jellison recently sat down with IVY Magazine to discuss current fitness trends and basic ways to promote an overall wellness vision, while maintaining a fitness program that fits individual needs and goals.

Read his interview, and visit his website to learn more.

Tell me about the resources on your website.

We’re trying to educate our athletes. I want them to walk away learning something instead of just sweating. Don’t get me wrong—we want them to sweat too—but we put an emphasis why are we doing these movements, and how we can do them better. There’s more purpose in it that way.  

What are the biggest misconceptions people have about their health?

People often wonder why they have to see a physical therapist, trainer, or running coach, since there is so much information available online. But sometimes there are specific ways to use a foam roller, for example, that you would never learn without a guide. If you learn some basic skills, those will stay with you forever. Knowing how to do basic movement patterns correctly will apply to your dead lift, to your lunge, and to your sprints. There’s a misconception out there that results mean killing yourself with strenuous effort. The most important thing is to be technical, even if it’s with a basic squat or the most complex movement you know.

What are your top health tips?

  • Try to eat a salad every day. It’s so easy to eat meat and convenience foods, which unfortunately mean more sugar and more calories.
  • Don’t drink too many of your calories. Smoothies and liquid nutrition can be really healthy, but if you need 2,000 calories a day, it’s really easy to get at least half of those from liquids. That means you’re not getting significant things that whole foods and the chewing process bring to the body.
  • Find something that’s impossible and make it possible. It could be relationships, or your work. What if it’s impossible right now for you to do your favorite run in 26 minutes? What’s impossible today will be possible eventually. You have to recognize it when it happens and celebrate it.

What’s your own personal background?

I never intended to become a coach or a trainer. I was an athlete in college and got my degree in psychology. I was always in a competitive environment. After college, I trained for the decathlon. I moved to Berkeley, where I became a volunteer assistant coach while I was training. When I was injured in 2012, I stopped training and focused on being a better coach.

What makes a top coach?

Good coaches know themselves pretty well. If you are demanding physically and mentally challenging things of people, you have to have experienced that yourself, or know how to manage those personalities. If you don’t have a coach who feels comfortable in that environment, you’re at risk.

What are biggest fads in fitness right now?

Even though certain high-energy classes might kick-start your health, long-term health means really finding a way to improve your overall environment—whether it’s things like IVY or a great support group, or buying a kettlebells and learning to do one to two exercises on our own. You need to take control of your time, money, and health.

Do you believe in the mind-body connection?

Yes. There’s a huge connection. Some people recognize it, but in general, it’s vastly underrated. People who don’t lift weights but just think about lifting weights get stronger in a month. Meditation is very useful—that could mean anything from lying on the floor for ten minutes to a yoga class.

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